mid day editorial: Plug loopholes before imposing plastic fines

Jun 07, 2018, 07:00 IST | mid-day correspondent

The report details how the BMC is currently in the process of finalising a plastic patrol squad, that will keep an eye out for citizens carrying banned plastic items in Mumbai.

Corruption concerns are quite rightly looming even as the BMC creates squads to impose Rs 5,000-Rs 25,000 plastic fines, a front page report said in this paper yesterday.

The report details how the BMC is currently in the process of finalising a plastic patrol squad, that will keep an eye out for citizens carrying banned plastic items in Mumbai.

The civic authorities have decided to raise a separate squad to impose penalties of between R5,000 and R25,000 for carrying certain plastic items. While we need strict penalties for a cleaner city, there are legitimate worries that officials might use this as a weapon to threaten, intimidate and eventually, to extort people.

We need citizens to become aware before this drive starts. Check the BMC website regularly. Learn about your rights and what you can carry or not carry. The onus, though, is on authorities to be absolutely clear and transparent when it comes to rules with reference to use of plastic. Post signage that says what is permissible and not. Specify whether these rules apply to citizens or shops.

The BMC needs to learn from the clean-up marshal terror rackets and even the pay 'n' park extortion rackets with impunity in this city. We've seen that citizens have been made targets precisely because of ignorance and the opaque nature of laws and rules governing different bans or movements.

The plastic ban may be done with good intentions and necessary to stop pollution. Yet, it is not just the intent and will, but the way that it is executed, that is important. When a new scheme or ban is initiated it has to be properly thought through right till the very end for it to be truly effective. The BMC needs to look at the drawing board for all these loopholes and grey areas, address them and plug them if need be, before implementing the fines for plastic.

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